May 27, 2013

"When you’re in public, you’re in public. What happens in public, is the very definition of it."

"I don’t want you telling me that I can’t take pictures in public without your permission."

Jeff Jarvis, quoted in an article about the intrusions of Google Glass.
Mr. Jarvis said we’ve been through a similar ruckus about cameras in public before, in the 1890s when Kodak cameras started to appear in parks and on city streets.

The New York Times addressed people’s concerns at the time in an article in August 1899, about a group of camera users, the so-called Kodak fiends, who snapped pictures of women with their new cameras.

“About the cottage colony there is a decided rebellion against the promiscuous use of photographing machines,” The Times wrote from Newport, R.I. “Threats are being made against any one who continues to use cameras as freely.” In another article, a woman pulled a knife on a man who tried to take her picture, “demolishing” the camera before going on her way.
Interesting things about that old NYT article:

1.  The word "kodak" — with a lower-case k — is used repeatedly in place of the word "camera," and the word "camera" appears once, toward the end, and only after "photographing machines." Less attention was paid back then, it seems, to the interest in preserving the trademark in brand names. (The loss of "aspirin" and "heroin" as Bayer trademarks came after WWI.)

2. The word "fiends," used repeatedly, connotes evil and addiction. From the same time period, the OED quotes: "The autograph-fiend; the cyclist-fiend; the interviewer-fiend; the newsboy-fiend; the organ-fiend" (1896), "‘A dope fiend’... A victim of the opium habit" (1896).

3. The word "promiscuous" fits with the nature of the perceived harm: women are victims. The article refers to "married men" wanting to bring lawsuits against the photographers. One man is said to have consulted a lawyer about whether "an assault could be charged" if the photograph is taken "against the will." But how sexual is the word "promiscuous"? The etymology connected it to "mixed up," and the oldest meaning is, according to the OED: "Done or applied with no regard for method, order, etc.; random, indiscriminate, unsystematic." The OED has some great quotes for the specifically sexual meaning that seems so central to us today:
1804   S. T. Coleridge Coll. Lett. (1956) II. 1119   He is..addicted to almost promiscuous Intercourse with women of all Classes.
1879   Harlequin Prince Cherrytop 29   Better frig, howe'er the mind it shocks, Than from promiscuous fucking catch the pox....
1924   C. Connolly Let. Dec. in Romantic Friendship (1975) 32,   I am not promiscuous but I can't be loyal to an icicle....
1978   S. Herzel in P. Moore Man, Woman, & Priesthood viii. 119   It is precisely because men can compartmentalize that they are more easily promiscuous than women.

53 comments:

rhhardin said...

Miscogyny means liking all kinds of women.

CEO-MMP said...

George Eastman's first camera was called simply "Kodak". So it wasn't the brand name they weren't capitalizing, merely the model name.

The word camera comes from latin for vaulted room or vaulted space, but the Arabs are trying to take credit for it by saying they have something called Al Quamera.
This device automatically adds full covering to any female model.

Ann Althouse said...

"George Eastman's first camera was called simply "Kodak". So it wasn't the brand name they weren't capitalizing, merely the model name."

I've never seen the term "brand" restricted like that. You're saying, for example, that "Volkswagen" is a brand but "Beetle" is not a brand?

That's news to me.

pm317 said...

"I don’t want you telling me that I can’t take pictures in public without your permission."

Yes, I can. You can never take MY picture unless you know me (or ask my permission). I may be incidental to your other focus but never your subject without my permission. Even about having strangers being incidental in people's pictures, good, civil, and polite people go to great extent to avoid that, notwithstanding that NYT article from the 1890s. Yes, we may be in a public place, but there are rules, as simple as we don't stare at others, eavesdrop on their conversation, and such. With Google Glass, everybody is that person's subject whether they like it or not and I think that is what is objectionable.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm referring to the legal interest in preserving a trademark. You don't want to see your brand lowercased like that. The newspaper would receive a complaint if it did that to a brand name today. It doesn't matter whether it's the company's name, the product line name, or the particular product within the line. If you have a brand, you don't want it to become generic, as happened, famously, to aspirin (and less famously or significantly to heroin).

Robert Cook said...

"Kleenex" is another brand name that has become generic for facial tissues.

pm317 said...

The newspaper would receive a complaint if it did that to a brand name today.

Overtime, some trademarks do become lowercase like teflon whether the owner likes it or not. For kodak, looks like, it was kodak before it became Kodak.

Robert Cook said...

"Xerox" has essentially become generic for photocopying, or the xerographic process.

pm317 said...

Why is Google Glass more objectionable? It makes recording as easy as committing to memory and with permanence. It makes public no longer public in the conventional sense. In a public square today, everybody, most everybody is on a level playing field -- by that I mean, you are limited by your memory on what you can retain. Though that has changed because everybody is a photographer thanks to digital cameras. But even there, going back to my earlier comment, you are bounded by the limitation of a civic society. What is Google Glass's motivation in recording what they see for permanence, if that is not the ultimate encroachment on others' privacy?

Pastafarian said...

I've never really understood the idea that we might have the right to prevent someone from photographing us in public. We have no expectation of privacy in public; that seems like a truism, the very definition of "public".

And yet, I recall that Althouse usually asks permission from someone before taking their photo. Is that just a courtesy, or some sort of requirement, because you'll be posting it on your blog, and it's a commercial enterprise?

I don't know how Person A can claim ownership over the image formed by Person B capturing photons that happened to bounce off of Person A's face. And I don't know why it would matter, whether the camera is in plain view, or hidden, as in the case of this (stupid faddish and doomed) Google Glass project. Hell, a few of those photons bounced off of Person B before reaching Person A.

The main concern about this Google Glass thing appears to be the fear that it will be so widely adopted that your image will be captured by someone every time you step out of your door. I don't think very many people are going to put this stupid cyborg visor-without-lenses thing on their face and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. Then again, I thought Twitter was a stupid fad too, and apparently people just love to publish and read tiny blurbs about what they just ate, or how it came out the other end. So I could be wrong here too.

Big Mike said...

Getting back to the issue of wearable computers that can also take pictures, I imagine that the case law is pretty well established. Not only are small, cheap, easy-to-use cameras very old technology (120 years old, as pointed out in the article), but inconspicuous, wearable cameras capable of surreptitiously taking pictures is a technology used during World War II and available commercially since at least the 1970's, if not earlier.

Pastafarian said...

pm317, are you saying that I don't have the legal right to take your photo, or even stare at you, in public?

Or are you saying that it would be rude for me to do this?

Craig said...

Flip-flops used to be generic, but now they're a brand at ten times the price so you have to ask for thongs. But those are no longer footwear.

Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pm317 said...

ha, here is a perspective from a non-westerner. I grew up in a society where everybody implicitly watched everybody and compared and contrasted and judgements passed. When I came to live in this western part of the world, the one thing that attracted me to it, was how everybody gave me my space, even in a public square. There is something quintessentially American/Western about having an invisible shield around you as you exist in the public space. You may observe other people benignly but it is not something more than a good natured curiosity -- there is nothing permanent about it and you can't do much with it and certainly nothing legal with it (unless you're a witness to something major). What is Google Glass Owner's motivation in wearing it (if it is not surveillance that might stand in a court of law). It is creepy unless everyone starts wearing one of those and that becomes the norm. Of course, that is what Google wants. But is that what everybody wants?

pm317 said...

@Pastafarian, yes, the latter. What stops us from doing it is mores(generally pronounced /ˈmɔreɪz/) of civil society. Legality of it is brought to question now with Glass.

Craig said...

Hasn't YouTube made everyone a public figure?

jr565 said...

Good is to bad as public is to?
The antonym of public is private. How can you therefore expect privacy in public?

ironrailsironweights said...

There were similar fears about a decade ago when cell phone cameras were about to come on the market. As it wasn't clear at first exactly how they would work, many people though it would be possible to take pictures while pretending to talk on the phones. This lead to worries that they could be used to take surreptitious photos. I recall reading somewhere a breathless warning that perverts would hire hookers to bring the phone cameras into women's locker rooms.

Peter

jr565 said...

Ironrails wrote:
" I recall reading somewhere a breathless warning that perverts would hire hookers to bring the phone cameras into women's locker rooms."

hookers in locker rooms? Now there's an idea. I was trying to find a way to get pics of naked chicks for my lockerroomexposed.com website. Though why would you need a hooker? Just hire a woman to go into a woman's locker room and men to go into a men's locker room and start filming.

I do know, also, that many gyms ban cell phones in the locker rooms for this exact fear.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why is Google Glass more objectionable?

I've never really understood the idea that we might have the right to prevent someone from photographing us in public.


I think that the objection is that, with Google Glass, you have no concept that someone is going to be taking a photo or film you. Whereas with a camera or even a cell phone it is more obvious that the action is happening. If you see someone taking a photo you can try to avoid being the subject or even try to evade being in the frame at all. You have some sort of control or choice about being filmed.

With Google Glass, it just feels like spying. Spying on people is creepy.

Ann Althouse said...

@Robert Cook If you think those brands are now generic, try making a product and using those names on your packaging and in your ads and see what happens.

You'll lose.

Ann Althouse said...

"And yet, I recall that Althouse usually asks permission from someone before taking their photo."

That's not so. Look at all the pictures from the demonstrations. I've taken video of people who were saying "Don't take my picture. I do not consent to have my picture taken."

"Is that just a courtesy, or some sort of requirement, because you'll be posting it on your blog, and it's a commercial enterprise?"

If I were using someone's picture on a label to some product I wanted to sell or in an ad to sell a product, it would be different, but the idea that the blog is "a commercial enterprise" isn't a relevant concept. Newspapers are more of a "commercial enterprise" than this. I'm not going to give legal advice on exactly where the line is, but photographers who acquire permission may be trying to avoid lawsuits, not doing something that must be done. These issues are governed by state law, different in different states and susceptible to change over time. There are also free speech and free press rights that are superior and that can be argued about and will probably never be fully resolved.

Quite aside from the law there are questions of ethics and etiquette. If I'm near someone and that person isn't putting on a public display (like a demonstration), I'll ask permission. If someone is further away, I might not. I don't take pictures with a hidden camera or peering through windows.

ricpic said...

Cameras were seen - by the 1890's Times, reactionary by today's establishment Times' standards - as a violation of privacy, not at all the same thing as considering the women being photographed as "victims." The whole victim thing is a way of reducing others to a condition of impotence so that they can be "helped."

pm317 said...

I've taken video of people who were saying "Don't take my picture. I do not consent to have my picture taken."

This happened in a public event and a person attending that gives up their privacy willingly to some extent by attending that event. Not so with Glass, you give up your privacy for existing in a public space (it is ironic that what I thought was an evolved Western tradition is now being acknowledged as nothing special).

pm317 said...


Schmidt Warns: Teens' mistakes will never go away...


A disclaimer..you do this at your own discretion (peril), even your youthful indiscretions.

ricpic said...

At some deep level most people recognize that taking a picture of a stranger is a violation, although a violation of what is hard to say, and therefore most ask permission before taking the picture. We laugh at primitive cultures that almost universally believe something essential has been stolen by the photographer, but we honor that aversion to being photographed when we ask permission.

edutcher said...

DBQ is right. It's the surreptitiousness of it that's going to cause trouble.

People can see the camera come up; here, you're just fiddling with your glasses.

Ann Althouse said...

The word "kodak" — with a lower-case k — is used repeatedly in place of the word "camera," and the word "camera" appears once, toward the end, and only after "photographing machines." Less attention was paid back then, it seems, to the interest in preserving the trademark in brand names.

Very common at the time. Frank James (brother of Jesse) had a sign in front of the family farm forbidding them.

The word "promiscuous" fits with the nature of the perceived harm: women are victims.

The only people who buy that never knew a faithless woman.

Chip S. said...

Whenever I encounter a hep-cat w/ g-glasses I cover my face w/ the latest issue of Maxim.

Bruce Hayden said...

George Eastman's first camera was called simply "Kodak". So it wasn't the brand name they weren't capitalizing, merely the model name.

Not sure of the distinction that you are trying to make. Under trademark law, "Kodak" was a trademark, identifying a specific product in the public's mind. When they heard that word, they thought about the camera. So, even if the name had not been somewhat unique, they ultimately developed what is termed "secondary meaning", which is that identification or connection between product and mark (i.e. name here). Later, they extended the name from a specific product to all their products.

What Ann is talking about is termed "genericide", where a mark (such as "Kodak" here, or "Kleenex", "aspirin", etc.) becomes associated with a type of product, instead of a specific product. Like using "Coke" to refer to all cola beverages, "Xerox" to identify photocopiers, or photocopying, or "Photoshop" to identify photo editing software or using such to edit photos. A company can spend many millions advertising their product, and associating it with a certain mark (i.e. name) in the minds of the public, and then lose all that investment if the word starts to identify the generic product or service, and not the specific one.

There are a couple of rules that attorneys tell their clients here in order to protect their investment in their trademarks. One is that the proper use of their mark is most often as an adjective. Rarely as a noun, and never as a verb. A Kodak camera, and not a "kodak". Or, maybe worse, "photoshopping" an image. Because once the public starts using "kodak" to refer to generic cameras, then all their competitors can start advertising their own "kodaks".

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Examples of how carefully manufacturers tread here: Everyone may refer generically these days to "Zip-Loc bags," but competing manufacturers invariably use "zipper-lock" (well, almost invariably; I think I've seen "zipper-sealing" somewhere) -- close enough to cause some confusion, but not infringing. Everyone may call a cotton swab a Q-Tip, but not a competing manufacturer.

Rabel said...

Glasshole will be 2014's word of the year.

betamax3000 said...

Let me know when Google Glass has the following:

• X-ray Vision

• Laser Beam Capability

• Can Opener.

Chip S. said...

Rabel FTW.

Rabel said...

And there's that brain cancer thing.

Bruce Hayden said...

At some deep level most people recognize that taking a picture of a stranger is a violation, although a violation of what is hard to say, and therefore most ask permission before taking the picture. We laugh at primitive cultures that almost universally believe something essential has been stolen by the photographer, but we honor that aversion to being photographed when we ask permission.

Reminds me of Halloween a couple years ago in Reno. They typically have a casino crawl through the walkway between 3 of the casinos, where there is an ocean of costumes. A couple of young women came up to me and told me I couldn't photograph them. I laughed at them when they told me that they were going to call the cops, and even harder when they told me one of their fathers was a cop and the other had an uncle who was a lawyer, who had told them that no one could photograph them in public w/o their permission. The credible threat would have been to threaten to call casino security, because they do have the right to prevent taking photos on their properties. If they had though, probably would have locked my phone and told them that they needed a court order to delete anything on it, which they were unlikely to get.

Captain Curt said...

Companies with valuable trademarks to protect have whole departments that scour media accounts for genericized usage of their marks. They will send out polite but firm letters requesting corrections in usage.

In my childhood as the son of a DuPont chemist, I was aware of DuPont's department, set up after they lost the "nylon" trademark due to lack of protection. Dow Chemical is particularly vigilant with respect to stories about "Styrofoam litter", requesting/demanding use of the generic "polystrene foam" instead.

I think you can distinguish (at least) three types of genericization (?) of a trademark: informal, non-commercial use; non-competitive media use, and competitive commercial use. Legal protection of a trademark can't protect against the first, has some protection against the second, but definite protection against the third.

G Joubert said...

It's flat-out rude to surreptitiously take a stranger's picture in public. It's even ruder to then post that photo on the internet to make fun of that stranger.

ALP said...

I was raised by a dad who worked for Kodak his entire career. He was an amatuer photographer as well; we kids had to sit for photos ALL THE TIME as he did QC for Kodachrome film. And these were not photos just for the family, this was "field work" with my photo being taken in many different lighting conditions, etc. VERY TEDIOUS!!!!

When I got to my teenage years, I began to loathe having my photo taken. Thus, my hatred of being photographed pre-dates all of this by many years. Decades.

I recently made a decision after being stuck on a light rail ride with a bunch of photo snapping tourists...I felt like I was in a fishbowl.

Here is my solution: I am going to carry around a hideous rubber mask. Whenever I find myself being photographed - on goes the mask. Wanna take my photo? Fine, go ahead, but you'll have a rubber headed ogre in your pictures.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

ALP,

Here is my solution: I am going to carry around a hideous rubber mask. Whenever I find myself being photographed - on goes the mask. Wanna take my photo? Fine, go ahead, but you'll have a rubber headed ogre in your pictures.

Now, why do I suspect that this might have consequences the opposite of the ones you intend?

ALP said...

I was raised by a dad who worked for Kodak his entire career. He was an amatuer photographer as well; we kids had to sit for photos ALL THE TIME as he did QC for Kodachrome film. And these were not photos just for the family, this was "field work" with my photo being taken in many different lighting conditions, etc. VERY TEDIOUS!!!!

When I got to my teenage years, I began to loathe having my photo taken. Thus, my hatred of being photographed pre-dates all of this by many years. Decades.

I recently made a decision after being stuck on a light rail ride with a bunch of photo snapping tourists...I felt like I was in a fishbowl.

Here is my solution: I am going to carry around a hideous rubber mask. Whenever I find myself being photographed - on goes the mask. Wanna take my photo? Fine, go ahead, but you'll have a rubber headed ogre in your pictures.

Alex said...

Sure Jeff you can take my picture without my permission, and I can also knock your block off without your permission. Wanna try?

pm317 said...

Google graveyard

wildswan said...

There are photo logs on how to take street pictures and they have a lot to say on getting people's faces into pictures that a professional might want to publish. I mean if you just take a picture and show it to your friends not much can happen. But then these days that picture via Facebook might become public. And parents CAN ban pictures of their children.

ironrailsironweights said...

I was surprised to find out that dumpster is a trademark. It probably should be spelled Dumpster.

Peter

Robert Cook said...

"Sure Jeff you can take my picture without my permission, and I can also knock your block off without your permission. Wanna try?"

These two things are not equivalent, and one will result in your being put in jail while the other will not.

Robert Cook said...

"@Robert Cook If you think those brands are now generic, try making a product and using those names on your packaging and in your ads and see what happens.

"You'll lose."


I didn't say they were generic in that sense. They've become generic in their use in everyday speech. People don't typically say "Can you hand me a facial tissue?" they say "Can you hand me a Kleenex?" They don't usually say "Can you photocopy this for me?" but "Can you xerox this for me?" or we refer to the "xerox" machine even if the photocopiers in our offices are not Xerox branded.

Chip S. said...

"Can you xerox this for me?" or we refer to the "xerox" machine

I never hear either of these. It's just called making hard copies where I work.

Palladian said...

Bubble Wrap®

phx said...

We laugh at primitive cultures that almost universally believe something essential has been stolen by the photographer, but we honor that aversion to being photographed when we ask permission.

Eastman Kodak recently sold off that division where they processed the souls of people who were photographed.

Steve Koch said...

Google has a huge amount of personal info on us and this will just increase it. It is recording everything you see and do. Google will record and process this info as they and their political allies and the gov see fit. It wouldn't be surprising if your smart phone or Google goggles record your location as you move around. How much of the vast info that google has captured from their customers did they make available to Obama's election campaign?

Google goggles conscript their wearers into a huge army of mobile sensor platforms observing the public. Combining this vast amount of info, analyzing the images, and data mining it permits the gov to know where you are, who you are meeting, and what you are doing all the time. There is no doubt this info will be misused. Big brother is watching.

Baronger said...

"betamax3000 said...

Let me know when Google Glass has the following:

• X-ray Vision

• Laser Beam Capability

• Can Opener."

X-ray vision, or more accurately the thermal image is probably already here for regular cameras. I'm sure they could incorporate it, into the glass. Remember several years ago the big controversy about this.

Laser beam, will be a definite add on both for laser ranging, and also for bar code scanning. I'm sure a lot of companies would like the glasses equipped for scanning for inventory.

Can opener? Pfft, you can solder an old p-38 to the frame if you want. But really they work better on your keychain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-38_can_opener

Crunchy Frog said...

What Google Glass endangers is not privacy, but anonymity. Facial recognition software exists, and personal data can be delivered in real time wirelessly. So, someone looking at you with GG (and tapped into the right databases) can know instantly:

Your name
Age
Address
Income
Where you work
Where you shop
Medical history
Your spouse/SO
All of the above of SO
Kids' names
Their ages
Where they go to school

...and have access to any picture or video ever taken (and placed online) of all of the above.

A greater stalker's tool has never been invented (but I'm sure one will be soon enough).